Bullet for my Valentine

Playlist: Room Service

Hotels can be strange places. While they can represent a lavish lifestyle and living in the lap of luxury, they’re also mysterious, unsettling, and creepy. Why else do you think so many horror movies take place in them? Musicians spend most of their time in and out of hotel rooms around the world, so there are plenty of songs about hotels out there. While some of them view the hotel as a place of comfort or even a wild night, others see it as something mysterious and unnerving. Here are some of the more notable songs about hotels and what happens behind closed doors.

“Hotel Yorba” – The White Stripes

This early White Stripes song features the name of a real hotel in the band’s hometown of Detroit. They actually recorded the single version of this song in room 206 of the hotel. When they wanted to film the video inside the hotel, they weren’t allowed to and used various exterior shots instead. Upon initial release, the song was a hit in England before it was embraced stateside. Now, it’s considered a fan favorite, though for some reason I always disliked this song. Something about the bluegrass and the jaunty melody of the “1, 2, 3, 4” hook was annoying to me.

“Room 13” – Black Flag

Here we see a man on the brink of losing control. He’s at the point of snapping and is not sure whether or not he can make it in the world. At the same time, he wants to live and keeps begging for someone to “keep me alive/I don’t know if I can do it.” The song is brash, in your face, and outright brutal, much like Black Flag themselves. Not only is the song aggressive it leaves you wondering, what the hell is room 13? It’s never mentioned and leaves your mind to wander. Is it part of an insane asylum or prison? We’re never sure. All we know for sure is this guy is about to lose it.

“Hotel” – Cassidy ft. R. Kelly

Anybody actually remember the rapper, Cassidy? Probably not, but in 2003 he had one of the hottest hip hop songs. With R. Kelly by his side, Cassidy talks about using lush hotels to hold lavish parties and convince hotties to creep up to his hotel room. It’s similar to Chingy’s “Holidae In” and Cassidy knows this as he makes references to both that song and the iconic “Rapper’s Delight.” Honestly, it sounds like your typical rap song, but what made this one a hit was the unforgettable hook. Even if you didn’t really like the song you couldn’t help but sing the R. Kelly laced hook. You gotta admit, the man knows how to make earworm hooks.

“Room 21” – Hinder

I always saw Hinder as a sleazy band and they prove it with this song.  Sounding like a Motley Crue song, the band talks about being seduced by an irresistible woman and having a wild night in room 21. When the guy comes to the next morning, the mysterious woman is gone. He’s been used, but it was so good he doesn’t care. It’s the classic tale of excess, sex, and partying. It’s clearly meant to be a fun night to remember instead of a cautionary tale like the other songs on this list.

“Heartbreak Hotel (This Place Hotel)” – Michael Jackson

One of Jackson’s best and underrated songs, it’s about a strange hotel designed to break up couples. In it, the protagonist talks about taking his lover to what he thought would be a romantic night out and instead ends in heartache. The hotel implants two women in his room implying he’s cheating on his lover. He can’t convince her otherwise and he’s left alone. The upbeat music, Jackson’s wails, and the catchy hook distracts you from how weird this song is. A hotel made to break up couples? Just shows you never know what’s happening behind closed doors. To make the song even stranger the song title was later changed to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song.

“Room 309” – Creeper

If you’ve been following Creeper, then you’d know about the major story running across two EPs and their debut album. In a nutshell, the story follows the Callous Heart cult, the stranger, and paranormal investigator James Scythe trying to piece it all together. Room 309 is where James stays at The Dolphin Hotel in Southampton, UK. The story is so massive, it’s best to you check it all out here. As for the song itself, it’s one of the heaviest on the album and packs a major punch, showing off Creeper’s heavier side.

“Twilight Hotel” – Quiet Riot

This quintessential 80s rock band takes us to the titular hotel where “anything goes” and your wildest fantasies will be fulfilled. Frontman Kevin DuBrow sings about a “secret rendezvous” in this place that seems too good to be true. Even though it holds unbridled pleasures, there’s still an air of apprehension about the place. Appearing on their third album, QIII, the song is a typical rock ballad filled with big hooks and shredding guitars. Surprisingly, it’s not as sappy or cheesy as other ballads of the era.

“Room 409” – Bullet For My Valentine

Sometimes you don’t want to know what’s waiting for you in a room as this Bullet song explains. Frontman Matt Tuck sings about a guy walking into Room 409 and finding his girlfriend with another man. Rather than walking out the door, he goes in upset and ready to unleash his violent rage. It’s clear things aren’t going to end well with Tuck singing “[You] said his name and I came in your direction /Now I can choose what to do with both of you.” This territory isn’t new for Bullet. They have lots of songs about getting revenge on a cheating lover, but this one is probably their best.

“Chelsea Hotel #2” – Leonard Cohen

There are plenty of songs about the infamous Chelsea Hotel, but this one is about a once in a lifetime meeting. In 1968, Leonard Cohen was staying at the New York hotel working on his music. At 3 AM he ran into a woman in the elevator and proceeded to strike up a conversation. Turns out, the woman was none other than Janis Joplin. They apparently spent the night together, but their affair would be forgotten in the morning. Cohen penned this song about their meeting in 1971 not too long after her death. It’s a bittersweet account of a night spent together that’s all too fleeting.

“Hotel California” – The Eagles

The mother of all hotel songs. You can’t have a hotel playlist without this Eagles classic.

Playlist: What a Knock Out

Music and fighting seem to go hand and hand. But I’m not talking about a fight for your rights, your inner self, or anything like that. I’m talking about songs that take pride in knocking someone’s teeth in. Not all the songs on the playlist specifically reference physical fights, but the music, themes, and lyrics still get the mood across. So Vaseline your face and crack your knuckles, here are songs to start a fight to.

“Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J

This was one of my favorite songs when I was younger solely because of that memorable hook. It was so much fun running around the school yard shouting “mama said knock you out” until someone tattled on you. Both the song and the video featuring LL Cool J in a boxing ring spitting into the microphone are iconic. He may not be talking about an actual physical fight, but the theme of the song is perfect for this playlist. Cool J says inspiration for the song came from a conversation with his grandmother about his critics. Many of them felt his career was over and she told him “Oh baby, just knock them out!” She’s even featured at the end of the video telling the rapper to take out the garbage.

“The Fight Song” – Marilyn Manson

This song is meant to mock school fight songs, but Manson’s harsh vocals and the punchy guitars still get you riled up. The way Manson screams “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” at the end of each verse is so vile and aggressive you’re ready to break something. The song itself is actually a commentary on the Columbine shooting and condemning America’s obsession with violence. The video itself received some backlash since it pits goths against jocks in a mock football game. Some saw it as a direct echoing of Columbine, which doesn’t make any sense. Still Manson didn’t let it get to him on this stellar track.

“Move Bitch” – Ludacris

Ludacris is always great at providing music to stomp someone to. There’s “Get Back” and “Stand Up” that have similar themes, but it’s this single that’s the best. Whether you’re stuck in traffic, walking behind someone slow, or just ready to start brawling this is the song to get you pumped. How many times have you actually wanted to tell someone to get the fuck out of your way? It’s a simple song with thumping music and a lot of cursing to get your blood flowing and the punches going. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun even if you’re not looking to start a fight. Is it just me or does it seem like Luda wants to start a riot with his songs?

“Fighter” – Christina Aguilera

This song may not be about fighting someone, but it still applies. What has got to be Christina Aguilera’s best song to date, the track talks about taking all the bad and internalizing it. As a result, she comes out stronger, smarter, and better for it. This is an anthem for the ages, which is exactly what Aguilera wanted. Her powerful voice matched with the blazing guitars and harsh vibe of the music makes this a kick ass song ready to pump you up and face the world.

“Punch in the Face” – Ministry

Can’t get more straightforward than this song. This song is straight to the point with Al Jourgensen repeating “Nothing satisfies like a punch in the face/nothing quite like another punch in the face.” It’s not the best Ministry song, but it’s oddly satisfying when you need to blow off some steam.

“Fight” – The Cure

It’s hard to imagine any of the Cure guys getting into a nasty brawl, but it’s actually happened quite a few times during the band’s history. Similar to other songs here, this is more about fighting those inner demons and pain that aims to bring you down. The music is pretty intense while Robert Smith shouts “Fight! Fight! Fight!” begging you to not give in to the pain and the nightmares. I used to think the song was about former Cure bandmate Lol Tholhurst, who Smith had a falling out with, but that song is actually called “Shiver and Shake.”

“Fight Music” – D12

This song is all about getting into a fight and throwing down. It doesn’t try to mask its violent intentions and Eminem makes it clear what they want with the first line: “This kind of music, use it, and you get amped to do shit.” Like most songs featuring the infamous rapper, the track is not only violent, but obscene with references to Bizarre having sex with his grandmother, guns spraying, and even threatening to blow up Dru Hill. Anyone whose a fan knows it’s just another day in the life of Slim Shady, who is ready to take on anybody and everybody no matter the consequences.

“In Your Face” – Children of Bodom

With the way Children of Bodom attack their guitars, it seems like they would never back down from a fight. They’re practically begging for one in this stellar track. Everything about the song is seething with aggression from the roaring guitars and of course, Alexi Laiho’s howling vocals and anguished yells. Just from the title of the song alone you can feel the attitude steaming off of this song. At one point Laiho even says “Say one, more word, I double dare you (bring it on)/It’s my world, you’re in it, it’ll take you down in a minute.” Even if it’s exclusively about knocking the shit out of someone, it still exudes that adrenaline rush that happens right before the first punch lands.

“The Last Fight” – Bullet For My Valentine

Bullet are never hold back with their songs. Many of theme have violent themes and images, so it’s a little odd how this track about fighting doesn’t shed any blood. If anything it sounds like they’re doing their best to avoid a fight, but in the end they’ll fight one last time. The song can actually be construed as a fight for anything whether it’d be physical or not making it all the more universal. Personally, I don’t think it’s one of their strongest songs, but when they bash it out in concert you can’t help but pump your fists in the air.

“You’re Going Down” – Sick Puppies

I honestly don’t know much about Sick Puppies. I’ve seen their name quite a few times, but never bothered to listen to them. While searching for songs for the playlist this one came up several times and it’s pretty perfect. With the main hook of “One of us is going down” it’s clear what the song is about: getting down and dirty in a fight. Judging from the lyrics and the aggressive tone of the song, these guys aren’t backing down from a fight anytime soon. With such a straight forward title and the violent nature of the song, it’s no wonder the WWE has used it in their events.

“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” – Elton John

The song is pretty self-explanatory. Elton John wants to meet up with the guys and raise some hell. Whether that means getting drunk, causing trouble, and getting into fights it doesn’t matter as long as he “gets a little action in.” Rather than running away from a fight or trying to release some anger, John and crew are looking for a fight to have some fun. Elton John has a lot of popular songs in his catalog, but this is one of his most well known. It’s no surprise to learn it was based off of pub fights at the Aston Arms. Why does it seem like pubs and fighting go together like peanut butter and jelly?

Which one of these fight songs gets you riled up? Which brutal song did I miss? Let me know in the comment!

 

The British Invasion Tour Conquers Chicago

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Bullet For My Valentine at House of Blues Chicago 02/19/16

The British came and conquered this past Friday at the House of Blues. Hundreds braved the extreme wind to see the sold out British Invasion tour, a show that brings together While She Sleeps, Asking Alexandria, and Bullet For My Valentine. Though it was clear much of the crowd was there to see headliners BFMV from the seas of t-shirts, rubber bracelets, and hoodies sporting their logo, all of the bands successfully won over the crowd.

Openers While She Sleeps got the night started with their intense song “Brainwashed.” All it took was frontman Loz Taylor pumping his fist and chanting “Brainwashed! Brainwashed! Brainwashed!” to get the crowd on his side. With his screaming pushing his voice to the limit, you wouldn’t guess Taylor had throat surgery just last year. His voice never cracked as the band blazed through “This is Six,” “Death Toll,” and “Trophies of Violence.” The band engaged with the crowd joking about no one wanting to see them because they’re the openers, thanking them for coming early, and even crowd surfing. Before the end of their 45 minute set the band had the entire venue on their side following their demands for fist pumps, circle pits, and devil horns. They did what most opening bands fail to do: get the crowd interested.

The cheers and screams got louder when Asking Alexandria took the stage. Opening with the brutal track “I Won’t Give In” new frontman Dennis Stoff howled and the crowd put their devil horns in the air. This is actually Stoff’s first US tour with the band since taking over the role as singer last year. Fans seemed to embrace him as they cheered on his every kick, jump, and command. Even if you know nothing about the band, you can’t help but be impressed by Stoff’s vocal range. During songs “Run Free” and “Closure” Stoff went from melodic singing to screeching vocals and brought it back down for a guttural style. He never missed a beat. He easily swapped between ranges sometimes in the middle of a song.

Read the rest of the story here.

2015: The Year of Redemption

As 2015 comes to a close, the internet is flooded with list counting down the best albums of the year. I shifted through everything new I heard this year, thinking which album deserved this title when I realized how many artists made great comebacks: Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Bullet For My Valentine, and Muse. I don’t mean they came back to music after a lengthy absence. What I’m talking about it a return to form and creating albums that proved better than their previous efforts.

With all the artists I mentioned, their previous LP’s didn’t so well: people hated MDNA, Temper Temper lacked brutality, The 2nd Law was a little too ambitious, and Manson’s last few releases made people lose faith in the rocker (not counting his 2012 effort). All these artists came back stronger and harder this year to show fans and critics the fire hadn’t burned out of them yet. They weren’t perfect and I wouldn’t call any of them album of the year, but they helped redeem each artist in a way.

Rebel Heart showed that so far into her career Madonna still has it going on. Rather than trying to follow trends as she did on MDNA, she followed her own path to create one of her strongest albums since 2007’s Confessions on a Dancefloor. There were still some problems with it, but it made people think twice about writing off the Queen of Pop. Muse’s Drones had a poor concept behind it, but when you just look at the songs it’s classic, hard hitting Muse all the way. They scaled back on the overblown nature of their last few releases and went back to their rock roots for an exciting LP. It featured everything fans felt was missing from The 2nd Law, including Bellamy’s sweet soaring vocals.

When reading interviews Bullet For My Valentine seemed immensely disappointed by the reception of Temper Temper. They kept promising fans the next effort would be heavier and return to their beloved brutality. They kept their word with the excellent Venom. Finally, here were the songs that punched you in the face and never stopped to apologize. They still kept some of the rock influences from their last album, but they mixed it with their older sound rather than abandoning it completely. Even Children of Bodom had a great comeback with I Worship Chaos, which was miles better than Halo of Blood.

But perhaps the biggest comeback belongs to Marilyn Manson. Ever since the mid-2000s his career has been suffering. Since Eat Me, Drink Me he’s spent years searching for a sound that was right for him. He tried to continue his angry at everything, shock rock shtick, but it was clear it wasn’t working anymore. Rather than sounding clever and intelligent, his songs became boring and sounded like a Goth trying to hard to be disturbing. He finally bounced back with 2012’s Born Villain, but the damage was done. No one paid attention to the album; they thought he was the sad rock star. With The Pale Emperor, he finally found his groove in slow burning songs influenced by the blues. Sure, maybe the tracks aren’t as intense or insane as his earlier work, but he’s in a different place now. Things have changed and he’s finally found his voice for where he’s at in his career and critics took notice. Rolling Stone even called the best metal album of 2015.

While I wouldn’t call any of these albums the best of the year, they’re still impressive. Each one showed an artist bouncing back from a misstep and hitting the music scene with even more force than before. They had to show critics and fans they could still make good music despite some setbacks. They met expectations and in some cases exceeded them with the music they made this year. It goes to show a bad album isn’t the end. In some cases, it’s only the beginning.

Venom – Bullet For My Valentine

Release Year: 2015

Rating: 8/10

Ever since their fourth LP Temper Temper was met with tepid reviews, the group promised their next effort would be the hard, fast, brutal band fans love. They even rushed out a new song to prove they weren’t lying. It seems they kept their word for their fifth album, which should please long time fans of the band. They don’t stray away from their well established sound, which is both good and bad keeping this album from being the best they have to offer.

Bullet seem to have taken the reaction to their last album personally. Every song here sounds like there’s a new fire lit under them, something that was noticeably missing last time. To prepare fans for the intense ride the record opens with the brief “V,” which sounds like the band tuning and building up to something major. It’s not much, but it creates this unnerving anticipation. Bullet previously released the excellent “No Way Out” and it’s still one of the strongest tracks here. It’s a fucking beast of a song as they go all out with aggression, kick ass riffs, and screaming vocals fans have become used to over ten years. As always there’s the great blend of melody and brutality both in terms of the music and the vocals. The way Matt Tuck screams “No way out!” at the beginning of the song gets your heart racing and braces you for what’s about to come.

Army of Noise” is another great song dedicated to the legion of the group’s fans. Talking about the thrill of being on stage and watching the beautiful madness unfolding before their eyes, the song is all about letting go to the music. As the dirty guitars slay through the track, you picture the crowd opening up for motley circle pits and loving every minute of it. Tuck exclaims “Here’s to chaos tonight” as the song amps up and gets fiercer with every minute. Of course things gets hectic during the intense solo with their standard twin guitars that fans are used to, but can’t get enough of. Things slow down with “Worthless,” but the band never loses their heaviness. Though the song is a bit on the mellow side of, they still go as hard as they can while proclaiming “You can keep all your apologies/those words are worthless to me.” You can feel how fed up Tuck is when he starts singing that biting hook. What’s even better everything keeps getting more and more intense as the song goes on making sure there isn’t a moment where you want to hit skip.

Some critics have noted how the album doesn’t go beyond their standard “metalcore” sound and they’re right. The band doesn’t really try anything new on the LP, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Though it does mean some of the songs are forgettable or not very strong, such as “You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War).” Matt Tuck lets out an epic scream at the beginning of the track, but that’s about the best thing. Otherwise, the song itself is just okay. It’s not terrible, but the idea has been done before (and better) and having a whole chorus of people singing it like a battle cry gives it a hint of cheesiness. Didn’t we see this with glam metal? It’s as if they tried too hard to make this an anthem. “Broken” is another track with an overdone concept that warrants a decent sounding song. As always the guitar riffs kick ass, but otherwise there isn’t much more to say about it.

What the album is good at is giving fans what they want: songs that are loud, full of aggression, and heavy as fuck. “Pariah,” one of the stand out tracks, opens with slaying guitars that get your heart racing and body ready to mosh. It’s really energetic, upbeat, and full of fury. “Skin” is downright vicious with blazing guitars and catchy jumping rhythm. With “Venom” Bullet finally has a non corny slow number, though it may make you think of “Tears Don’t Fall” from the opening. Everything about it is really subdued, but since it seems to be about a poisonous relationship, there’s still a lot of edginess and fire. Just hear the way Tuck spits out “I hate you” while he reflects on his feelings.

Fans begged and screamed for classic BFMV and the band delivered. It’s definitely a step above their last LP, which found them kind of tame and depending on lame wrestlers for songs (talking to you Chris Jericho). The album is full of heavy tracks that will get you head banging until your neck is sore. Just about every song is intense, brutal, and in your face all equipped with killer riffs the band has become known for. They may have played it safe by not going beyond their comfort zone, but at least what they delivered are great songs that deserve to be played so loud it wakes your neighbors. What’s weird is the band seem to have this pattern where every other album is not so great followed by a good one (think Scream, Aim, Fire followed by Fever). It doesn’t compare with their finest work like The Poison, but at least it’s another strong entry in their catalog.